Right-Wing Media Distort Hillary Clinton's Comments About Libya Intervention

Conservative Media Follow RNC Lead In Smearing Clinton For Accurately Stating No Americans Died In Military Campaign To Oust Gadhafi

Right-wing media figures are distorting a comment made by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a MSNBC town hall, where Clinton said “we didn't lose a single person” during the 2011 U.S. military intervention in Libya. Conservative commentators parroted the GOP in berating Clinton for allegedly “forgetting” about the four Americans who were killed during the 2012 Benghazi attacks, when in reality Clinton was referring only to the military intervention in Libya, which ended nearly a year before the Benghazi attacks.

Hillary Clinton Defends Military Intervention In Libya, Says No American Lives Were Lost In Ousting Gadhafi

Hillary Clinton: “We Didn't Lose A Single Person” During The Libya Intervention. In a March 14 town hall appearance with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Hillary Clinton spoke about the American intervention to help oust the authoritarian leader of Libya, Muammar Gadhafi, saying “we didn't lose a single person” during the intervention (emphasis added):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Don't you support knocking off Assad, Bashar Assad?

HILLARY CLINTON: I think given the bloodshed he has spilled, that would be a good outcome, but Americans aren't going to do it. That's not us doing it. In Libya, you had a dictator who had American blood on his hands. Remember, Reagan tried to knock him off, as you recall, because you were working in the Congress -- missed, when he tried. When he said that he was going to track down his people and murder them, the Europeans and the Arabs came to us and said, “You've got to help us.”  

Because what they feared is what we see in Syria. What they feared was an out-of-control civil war on their shores. Right across the Mediterranean. Right next to Egypt. Right next to the rest of the Middle East. Remember, we had those countries helping us in Afghanistan, in our very big coalition. Now, when somebody that has helped you -- their people have died, they have expended their treasure to help us -- come and say, “This is personal to us, we in Europe, we in the Middle East,”  is the United States supposed to say,  “you know what, that's not our problem?”  And they can say to us,  “yeah, Afghanistan wasn't our problem either.”  But that's not the way you work with allies and the way you build coalitions. So what did we do there? We provided our unique abilities and they ran most of the air missions. They were really very much involved in helping to cordon off Libya, and in eventually defeating Gadhafi and his forces. 

Now, is Libya perfect? It isn't. But did they have two elections that were free and fair where they voted for moderates? Yes, they did. So, changing from a dictator who has hollowed out your country to something resembling a functioning state, and even hopefully more of a democratic one, doesn't happen overnight. And we've got to continue to support the Libyan people -- to give them a chance -- because otherwise, you see what's happened in Syria, with the consequences of millions of people flooding out of Syria with more than 250,000 people killed, with terrorist groups like ISIS taking up a huge swath of territory, as big as some of the states in that area. So yes, Libya was a different kind of calculation. And we didn't lose a single person. We didn't have a problem in supporting our European and Arab allies in working with NATO. And now we've got to support the Libyan people. [MSNBC, MSNBC Town Hall3/14/16]

Clinton Campaign Explains She Was “Clearly Referring To The Military Intervention Into Libya.”  A spokesperson for the Clinton campaign explained that her comments were  “clearly referring to the military intervention into Libya,” CNN reported. Clinton's spokesperson said, "'It's perfectly clear from her full comments that Hillary Clinton was saying not a single American life was lost during the Libyan intervention. We heeded the calls of our allies, our partners in the region, and the Libyan people and helped topple a murderous dictator who was prepared to massacre his own citizens, all without putting American boots on the ground.'" [CNN.com, 3/15/16]

Previous Reporting Acknowledged Libyan Intervention Was “Accomplished With No Western Casualties.”  A June 2014, Los Angeles Times article about the military intervention in Libya stated that the “international effort [was] accomplished with no Western casualties.”

A group of U.S. diplomats arrived in Libya three years ago to a memorable reception: a throng of cheering men and women who pressed in on the startled group “just to touch us and thank us,” recalled Susan Rice, President Obama's national security advisor.

The Libyans were emotional because the U.S. and its allies had toppled leader Moammar Kadafi in a military campaign that averted a feared slaughter of Kadafi's foes. Obama administration officials called the international effort, accomplished with no Western casualties, a “model intervention.”  [Los Angeles Times6/27/14]

RNC Truncates Clinton's Comment, Invokes Benghazi

RNC: “Benghazi?”  On the evening of March 14th, the RNC tweeted out a truncated clip of Hillary Clinton's answer to a Libya question at the Democratic town hall. In the clip she mentions “we didn't lose a single person” in overthrowing Muammar Gadhafi. The tweet ends with, “Benghazi?”

[Twitter, 3/14/16]

Conservative Media Follow RNC's Lead By Taking Comments Out Of Context, Baselessly Attack Clinton For “Forgetting” About Benghazi Victims

Breitbart News: Clinton Makes “Extraordinary” Claim, “Despite The ... Attack On A U.S. Consulate.”  In a March 14 article, Breitbart News published an article on Hillary Clinton's Libya answer from Monday night's MSNBC Democratic town hall, attacking her for an “extraordinary” answer that seemed to omit the deaths of four Americans after attacks at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi:

Monday during a MSNBC town hall, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton discussed the push for regime change in Libya while she served was secretary of state.

Clinton acknowledged the outcome wasn't “perfect,” but touted the elections, which were an improvement from the former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

[...]

Clinton went on to make the extraordinary claim to “Hardball” host Chris Matthews the United States “didn't lose a single person” in Libya, despite the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four Americans. [Breitbart News, 3/14/16]

Washington Free Beacon: Hillary Clinton “Forgets About Benghazi.”  A March 15 article in the Washington Free Beacon claims Clinton “appeared to have forgotten” about the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi:

The Obama administration's incursion into Libya while Clinton served remains one of the White House's most controversial foreign policy decisions, and Clinton defended it and said the U.S. needed to continue supporting the Libyan people.

“Otherwise, you see what's happened in Syria with the consequences of millions of people flooding out of Syria ... Yes, Libya was a different kind of calculation, and we didn't lose a single person,” Clinton said on MSNBC. “We didn't have a problem in supporting our European and Arab allies in working with NATO.”

The Benghazi attack has plagued Clinton ever since, with multiple congressional investigations into her conduct regarding the consulate's security and what she said in the aftermath of the attack. [Washington Free Beacon, 3/14/16]

WND: “Clinton Curiously Forgets About Consulate Terrorism.”  In a March 15 article about the Democratic town hall, WND reporter Cheryl Chumley promoted the idea that Clinton “curiously [forgot]” about the Benghazi attacks, opening the article with a recap of the assault:

On September 11, 2012, four Americans, including diplomat Christopher Stevens, were killed during terror attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi - but in a curious remark to MSNBC town hall attendees, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “we didn't lose a single person” in Libya. [WND, 3/15/16]

The Daily Caller: Clinton “Appears To Have Forgotten About The Sept. 11, 2012 Terrorist Attacks.”  In a March 14 article reacting to Hillary Clinton's town hall comments on Libya, The Daily Caller's Chuck Ross wrote that Clinton told Matthews that “the U.S. 'didn't lose a single person' in the North African country” and that she “appears to have forgotten about the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks” in Benghazi, Libya:

Hillary Clinton defended on Monday her push for regime change in Libya while she served as secretary of state, telling MSNBC's Chris Matthews the U.S. “didn't lose a single person” in the North African country.

But the Democratic presidential candidate appears to have forgotten about the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks that left dead Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department information officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. [The Daily Caller, 3/14/16]

The Federalist: “Hillary Clinton's Shock Benghazi Claim: 'We Didn't Lose A Single Person' In Libya.”  In a March 15 post, The Federalist reported on Clinton's town hall comments on Libya, writing,  “Clinton's rosy picture of a peaceful and democratic Libya clashes with the real one that's largely devolved into chaos following the Obama administration's interference in the country” :

During MSNBC's Democratic townhall in Illinois Monday night, former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said that “we didn't lose a single person” in Libya.

During Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, terrorists attacked a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and killed four Americans, including Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.

[...]

Clinton's rosy picture of a peaceful and democratic Libya clashes with the real one that's largely devolved into chaos following the Obama administration's interference in the country. After the Benghazi attack, American efforts to help rebuild Libya after ousting Gaddafi didn't continue as planned. [The Federalist, 3/15/16]

Fox's John Bolton: “Hillary Says US 'Didn't Lose A Single Person' In Libya. Tell That To The 4 Families Who Lost Loved One In #Benghazi.”  

[Twitter.com, 3/15/16]

Fox's Gretchen Carlson: Clinton Was “Forgetting The Ambassador And Three Other Dead Americans” In Her Libya Answer. On the March 15 edition of Fox News' The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson said Hillary Clinton “had another gaffe on the eve of her big day with Libya.” She later said, “I don't know if forgetting the ambassador and three other dead Americans is blamed on being tired ... . the direct quote is 'we didn't lost anyone in Libya.'” :

GRETCHEN CARLSON (HOST): The Libya [gaffe] is kind of a big one.

[...]

I don't know if forgetting the ambassador and three other dead Americans is blamed on being tired. Larry, the direct quote is we  “didn't lose anyone in Libya.”

LARRY O'CONNOR: I know. It's going to be pretty tiring to be President of the United States too. So she better get her act together. But to be fair, Simon said all the candidates, so we won't just target ... oh no, I will target Hillary Clinton. Are you kidding me? We didn't lose anybody in Libya? This is the same woman by the way who called the mother of one of those fallen heroes in Benghazi a liar. Because she dares to come forward and say hey, Hillary told me other things at the funeral other than what she's telling the rest of the world right now. Listen, she is so craven, she's such a craven political animal that she'll say whatever she has to to win. [Fox News, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson3/15/16]

Fox's Heather Childers: “How Do You Forget About Four Dead Americans?”  On the March 15 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, co-host Heather Childers asked of Clinton's comments, “How do you forget about four dead Americans?” Childers also said, “her claim ... fails of course to mention the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi” :

HEATHER CHILDERS: That was Hillary Clinton defending her push for regime change in Libya during a town hall. Her claim that the U.S. didn't lose anyone fails of course to mention the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where four Americans were killed.

[...]

Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, and Ambassador Chris Stephens. How do you forget about four dead Americans? [Fox News, Happening Now3/15/16]

Outnumbered Host Attacked Clinton For Her Comments, Asking “Is She Exhausted Or Did She Just Forget” About The Benghazi AttacksOn the March 15 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Harris Faulkner asked of Clinton's comments if “she [was] exhausted or did she just forget” about the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya?:

HARRIS FAULKNER (CO-HOST): Didn't lose a single person. It's a statement for her. It's a question for me. As you saw Hillary Clinton made no mention of the terror attack on our consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Meanwhile, the committee investigating Benghazi is planning to release a final report before the summer that could have big implications for Clinton's White House bid. First of all, in no disrespect to Mrs. Clinton, but is she exhausted or did she just forget? What is up with that?

[...]

ANDREA TANTAROS (CO-HOST): They seem to have Benghazi fatigue. So if you are running against Hillary Clinton, I think the argument you need to make is that it was her leadership as she explains it in her book, Hard Choices, that decided to push for ousting of Muammar Gaddafi which created this giant vacuum for ISIS to metastasize and that's what we're seeing now. That's also led to the administration having to do some damage control around the storyline which they said was JV group that no one needed to worry about. So what we see now, Harris, is an administration that is actively, according to intelligence experts, scrubbing intel reports.

FAULKNER: Right.

TANTAROS: Pressuring intelligence officers to write a different storyline as to what's happening. And that is all because of the failed leadership. If Hillary doesn't want to talk about Benghazi? Fine. But you have to talk about the broader picture of the war on terror she exacerbated by poor leadership.

FAULKNER: One second. I want to ask you about the scrubbing. And I know President Obama has said he's going to have that looked into to see how those reports were changed if they were in any way.

BRET BAIER: It's a big deal. Its an investigation the House Intelligence Committee has been doing. An investigation the inspector general has been doing. And there is evidence from 60 plus intelligence experts that say that their stuff was changed, to make it more rosey. That is not a good thing. Imagine, just take the prism to a Republican administration, if this had happened and how much attention it would be getting.

FAULKNER: It boggles the mind as to why it is not getting more attention. Meghan?

MEGHAN MCCAIN: I was just going to say, you know, only around 36 percent of the American public trusts Hillary Clinton. And I think when you hear her say something like nobody died in Benghazi, nobody died in Libya, we've all seen the videos of Sean Smith's mother now on camera over and over again absolutely heartbroken. There is sensitivity chip missing with her. Its why I feel like I can't trust her. Why don't you have compassion for this mother who is clearly still struggling and wants answers? Have you forgotten, because it was just brought up in the recent debate? I think this is her basic problem. And if you're a family member, or you just have a friend in the military obviously why are we going to trust our military with a woman who can't even have compassion for men that died, I will say this, at her hands? [Fox News, Outnumbered3/15/16]

Hannity Takes Distortion Of Clinton's Comments Even Further, Claims She Said “Nobody Died In Benghazi.”  On the March 15 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, host Sean Hannity said in response to a caller who mentioned Benghazi, “By the way, Hillary said 'nobody died in Benghazi.'” He later commented that “nobody seems to even care” about her alleged misstatement. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show3/15/16]

Union Leader: "America Didn't Lose A Single Person In Libya. We Lost Four." A March 15 editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader responded to Clinton's comments by recounting the details of the Benghazi attack and claiming,  “Clinton doesn't think she bears any responsibility for those deaths.”

Asked by Chris Matthews Monday night about her record in Libya as secretary of state, Clinton defended U.S. military intervention to oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. She contrasted her support for regime change in Libya to her belated opposition to the second Iraq War.

“Libya was a different kind of calculation, and we didn't lose a single person,”

On Sep. 11, 2012, heavily armed Islamic fighters attacked the U.S. diplomatic compound and a CIA facility in Benghazi.

At approximately 10:30 p.m., they set fire to the compound's main building, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and State Department information management officer Sean Smith.

Former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty was part of the CIA's quick reaction force that flew in from Tripoli in the early morning of Sept. 12 to assist the besieged CIA compound. He joined Tyrone Woods, also a former SEAL, on a roof of one of the buildings. Within minutes, both were killed by enemy mortars.

America didn't lose a single person in Libya. We lost four. Clinton doesn't think she bears any responsibility for those deaths. [Union Leader, 3/15/16]

*This post has been updated to include addititonal examples.